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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 26

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-12

David in Saul's Camp

v. 1. And the Ziphites, who had once before played traitors against David, came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, south of the wilderness?

v. 2. Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having forgotten, apparently, that he owed his life to the magnanimity of David, 1 Samuel 24:18, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, evidently his permanent guard and the nucleus of his standing army, 1 Samuel 13:2, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph.

v. 3. And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, for the entire neighborhood bore this name, the mountain with its foothills and lower slopes, which is before Jeshimon, by the way, on the well-known highroad which passed along near the mountain. But David abode in the wilderness, having withdrawn from the mountain Hachilah, and, or for, he saw, he found out through his scouts, that Saul came after him into the wilderness.

v. 4. David, therefore, sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed, he received definite information to that effect, the matter was beyond a doubt.

v. 5. And David arose and came to the place where Saul had pitched, he himself made a scouting trip by night, accompanied by at least a few of his faithful men; and David, having reached a spot where he could overlook the entire camp of Saul, beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner, the son of Ner, the captain of his host; and Saul lay in the trench, inside the wagon fortification, or rampart, and the people pitched round about him.

v. 6. Then answered David and said to Ahimelech, the Hittite, for parts of this heathen nation had remained and were gradually merged with the Israelites, and to Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, the son of David's sister and afterwards one of David's captains, 1 Chronicles 2:16; 2 Samuel 18:2; 2 Samuel 20:6; 2 Samuel 23:19, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? It was a very dangerous trip for the purpose of reconnoitering the king's camp. And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.

v. 7. So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, probably considering the bulwark of the wagons a sufficient safeguard, and his spear, the sign of royal authority, stuck in the ground at his bolster, near his head, to be ready for any emergency; but Abner and the people lay round about him, all soundly asleep.

v. 8. Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day; for so, according to the usage of war, he regarded Saul; now, therefore, let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time. This grim remark, that there would be no need of a second blow, shows how David's men felt about Saul's searching expedition.

v. 9. And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless? David had not changed his position toward Saul's person, as being sacred and inviolable by virtue of his kingship, 1 Samuel 24:6.

v. 10. And David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him, or, unless the Lord smite him, for David's oath put the revenge entirely in God's hand, or his day shall come to die, or he shall descend into battle and perish, these three being the contingencies which David took into account: sudden death by a stroke, a normal death, and death in battle.

v. 11. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed; he would not, on the part of the Lord, on the Lord's account, take vengeance into his own hand; but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, at his head, and the cruse of water, the water-pitcher, and let us go.

v. 12. So David, Abishai acting for him, took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away; and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them, Jehovah thus expressing His approval of David's expedition. That is the disposition of the children of God, not to seek their own revenge, but to place their matter into the hands of the Lord, for He has said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay. "

Verses 13-25

Saul Overcome by David's Plea

v. 13. Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; having crossed the valley, he climbed back to the very top of the hill from which he had probably come down in the evening; a great space being between them, for David trusted Saul so little that he preferred to have a great distance between himself and the king.

v. 14. And David cried to the people and to Abner, the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? This is much like our expression, Heigh-ho! or, Halloo! Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king? Abner resented this calling toward the king, by which his rest was disturbed.

v. 15. And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man, a warrior entrusted with the protection and security of the king? And who is like to thee in Israel? Wherefore, then, hast thou not kept the lord, thy king? It was the general's special duty to watch over the king's life. For there came one of the people in to destroy the king, thy lord; Saul had been in real peril of life.

v. 16. This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye are worthy to die, literally, "Sons of death are ye," because ye have not kept your master, the Lord's anointed; they deserved death for their neglect of duty. And now see where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.

v. 17. And Saul knew David's voice and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? Since David was so far away and it was not yet light, Saul could recognize him only by his voice. And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king!

v. 18. And he said, once more urging his innocence, which stood out all the more strongly in view of the fact that he had spared Saul's life once more, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? For what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand? His manner of addressing Saul is as humble, as gentle, and as reverent as ever.

v. 19. Now, therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let Him accept an offering, literally, "If Jehovah incited thee against me, let Him smell a peace-offering," the idea being that Saul should reconcile God to himself by an offering which had the purpose of restoring the right relationship between Jehovah and His children; but if they, the ones that incited the king, be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve other gods. Their enmity had the object of making David flee out of the country where the Lord lived among His people in His Sanctuary and thus tempting him to commit idolatry, because he could not worship Jehovah at the altars erected to His honor.

v. 20. Now, therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord, Saul was not to continue his enmity to the point where he would force David to die in a strange land; for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, for by this name David emphasizes his own insignificance in the country, Cf 1 Samuel 24:14, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains, for a. single straying partridge in the mountains is not worth hunting, since the birds may easily be found in flocks in the fields.

v. 2. l. Then said Saul, with the same momentary emotion which he had shown before, 1 Samuel 24:16, I have sinned; return, my son David; for I will no more do thee harm because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day. Behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. Instead of turning to the Lord in true repentance and asking Him for grace and power to overcome the evil of his heart, he makes a promise which was no more sincere than that of the same kind made on the previous occasion.

v. 22. And David answered and said, Behold the king's spear! And let one of the young men come over and fetch it.

v. 23. The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness, this being said with special references to himself; for the Lord delivered thee into my hand today, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed. He had stood the test when he spared the life of Saul, and exhibited his righteousness and faithfulness.

v. 24. And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, literally, "made large," esteemed highly, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the Lord, into whose hands David confidently committed himself, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation, all the misery and distress which the hostility of Saul would still prepare for him.

v. 25. Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David, still speaking under the influence of the fleeting better feeling which David's noble conduct awakened in him; thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail, both undertake and also fully perform, for Saul could not shut his eyes to the fact that the blessing of Jehovah was resting upon David. So David went on his way, not accepting Saul's invitation to return with him, and Saul returned to his place. Thus these two men parted forever, for Saul's enmity continued and forced David to flee into heathen territory. When a person has so hardened his heart that all kindness leaves no lasting impression, his final condemnation is only a matter of time.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-samuel-26.html. 1921-23.
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